1704 - The Jews of Gibraltar - The Exodus
After the 1704 capitulation to Anglo-Dutch forces the Spanish population of Gibraltar refused the offer to live under what they rightly considered to be foreign rule. Over 99% of them voted with their feet and left en masse. It was a sort of mirror image of Gibraltar's well documented referendum votes of the 20th century. No doubt an awkward analogy but the history of Gibraltar, in both cases, would have been entirely different if the vote had gone the other way.
After these people had left, the Dutch overall commander of the Rock Prince George of Hesse was suddenly faced with the fact that it would be more difficult to hold on to Gibraltar than it had been to take it. Defence against an inevitable reaction from the Bourbon opposition was a military problem he was more than capable of handling - the logistics of obtaining food and other necessities was a different story.
A Xebex off Gibraltar. The Garrison would have to rely on the efficiency of these hardy little ships for a regular supply of fresh produce from Barbary ( 1873 - Vilhelm Melbye )
( see LINK )
( see LINK )
One of the first things he did was to declare Gibraltar a free port in order to try to encourage ships from wherever they came from, to call at Gibraltar. Perhaps this was the same reason why Queen Anne was persuaded to follow suit. Another more likely reason was that the English were forced to do so at the insistence of Muley Ismael, the Sultan of Morocco and - appropriately - one of Gibraltar's main suppliers of goods outside of Britain and Lisbon.
Muley Ismael ( Unknown )
According to the British Commissary of Supplies, a certain Mr. Knox the situation just after the capitulation was pretty grim.
The whole of this garrison is about 2,600 souls including inhabitants which I victuall and have no more left than will last above 10 week at short allowance from this time.
A few months latter things were just as bad, According to the Henry Nugent, Count of Val de Soto, the man Hesse had appointed as Governor, nothing much had improved;
We want all most everything but sault provisions; my Lord Peterborough has not left men enough to do the daily duty of the garrison.
Meanwhile, the civilian population of Gibraltar continued to grow and the Barbary Jews found themselves a niche as go-between traders. In 1712, Colonel Joseph Bennett ( see LINK ) found it necessary to include the following comment in his report to the Inspectors of the Army. It more than suggests that the influx of civilians into Gibraltar was beginning to interfere with his own work as chief military engineer at Gibraltar from 1704 to 1713
That in a short time after the place was declared an open port, many people came from all parts to reside in it, and gave any money for houses, both in large fines and heavy monthly rents . . . The Jews come daily and in great numbers from Barbary, Leghorn and Portugal to inquire into every particular circumstance of the place, and have their correspondents abroad; those from Barbary have raised the price of provisions to a very great degree; and indulged by their paying high fines and rents, so that they have some of the best houses in town, and thinking to ease themselves of these taxes and great rents have complained to the court of Mequinez.
So much so that officers and others stationed in Gibraltar also found time to complain; it seems that;
. . . the Jews, Genoese and Greeks get the best homes because they can afford to pay a high premium
Others also protested that they were not allowed to go out to the Market till 9 o'clock but that
. . . the Genoese, Spaniards and Jews had leave to go ... as soon as the Gates were open by which method such Jews and Genoese engrossed the whole trade and the poor English were in a starving circumstance.
The old market place that the 'English' were not allowed in until 9.00 a.m. It was replaced by a 'new' one in 1877 ( see LINK ) and was itself replaced by a newer version in 1929. All, however, occupied more or less the same part of town near Waterport ( see LINK )
In yet another report to the inspectors of the Army, the Spanish Lieutenant Francisco Perez de Padilla wrote;
. . any person that kept a Shop, Tavern, or sold any Goods openly they were obliged to pay to Major Bucknall, if they were Spaniard 1 Pistole per month; if Genoese a Moeda of Gold per month, and if Jews 2 Moedas of Gold per month; and when thought fit to raise a large sum from the Jews, there was an order on the church door with the names of about 4 or 5 at a time, ordering them immediately to leave the Towne; which they not being willing to do, were obliged to raise two or three Moedas of Gold each man for leave to stay, which was paid to Major Bucknall.
Likewise if any Jew wanted a house or shop, given 10 moedas of gold to the said major, he would turn out three Spaniards that were in possession of them.
Not bad going at all in such a short space of time. Major Bucknall was the town Mayor at the time but one can be sure he was not the person ultimately responsible for this charade. The British administration had little to complain about. People like Brigadier-General Roger Elliott who was the commanding officer at the time - were also making a killing.
The Jews now formed more than half of the civilian population and the list of rents collected by the Governor in 1712 gave him a personal revenue of which more than half came from them.
Señor Nieto - from Leghorn - 6 dollars:
Señor Amaro 4;
Señor Mattias 10;
Señor Benamore 8;
Two young merchant Jews in the Great Street called Cardozo - from Portugal ) 12;
Moses Nementon 6;
2 Jews near the Great Church 12;
Benjamin the Jew 4;
The Jews Taylor at the Corner of the Parade 4;
28 Jews Shops in the Great Street 118;
All other unidentified Jews 300:
Or 484 out of 886 dollars paid by everybody.
By 1712, the decisive victory by Franco-Spanish forces over British forces at the Battle of Brihuega, the fact that Philip V, the de facto king of Spain had renounced his claims to the Crown of France and that the Archduke Charles was now busy installing himself as Emperor of Austria meant that the War of the Spanish Succession had become a meaningless inconvenience for everybody concerned.
It was time for the Treaty of Utrecht. ( see LINK ) The Dutch withdrew from Gibraltar, the British kept Minorca and assured themselves of the Asiento with Spain which allowed Great Britain the right to supply African slaves to the Spanish territories in the Americas.
Almost as an afterthought the British also kept Gibraltar. Unfortunately for everybody concerned it was a badly drafted treaty of which in particular the wording of its Article 10 would cause problems of interpretation that would last to the present day. One of its paragraphs, however, was crystal clear;
. . . Her Britannic Majesty, at the request of the Catholic King, does consent and agree, that no leave shall be given under any pretence whatsoever, either to Jews or Moors, to reside or have their dwellings in the said town of Gibraltar . . .
In other words, it now suddenly became necessary to evict half the civilian population of the Rock. Well away from the immediate problem Lord Lexington, the British Ambassador in Madrid, ordered the authorities in Gibraltar to stick to the literal wording of the treaty and to get cracking and get rid of the lot of them.
The Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Ralph Congreve, suitably appalled at the consequences to both his pocket and the general welfare of the garrison of complying with such an instruction, hit on a good delaying tactic. He couldn't throw them out because they hadn't paid their debts.
Concerning the Moors and Jews. . . that they should all be gone Immediately, and upon this subject, I begg leave to give your Lordship this short Account of them, of the Moors, seldom, or ever any have been here, and then, only just come, and gone, and of the Jews there are about one hundred and fifty, two thirds of which are Natives of Barbary and the rest some from England, and Holland, but most from Italy, and as they have dealings in all parts, your Lordship will soon judge the Loss their Correspondents must have, if they are sent away without settling their Accounts, and paying what they owe, for want of a reasonable time, allow'd them for this purpose.
But the matter went further up the ladder and it was now the Secretary of State, the 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, who refused to be sidetracked and instructed Congreve accordingly;
. . . do not suffer under any pretence whatsoever, any Jews or Moors to inhabit at Gibraltar, and that you take care, that such as are at present settled there, do within the space of a Month, from the receipt of these Orders, make up their accounts, remove or otherwise dispose of their Effects & Transport their Persons and Familys from thence. They will have no reason to complain that the Term limited for their removal is too short, when it shall be considered that they have had for several Months already knowledge of what is stipulated relating to them.
Henry St John, the 1st Viscount Bolingbroke
Back peddling furiously Congreve replied that he had managed to get rid of all the Jews except for six that were being kept as hostages by a British merchant called James Wishart but the truth was that the Jews were either soon back on the Rock or had been replaced by others. The real problem which the authorities back in London failed to recognise was that the Jewish merchants were indispensible as regards supplying the Garrison with its needs.
Congreve had tried to discuss his problems with Lieutenant-Colonel Perez, who was the commander of the Spanish troops at the frontier but obviously to no avail. In 1715, for example, the Spanish authorities showed their determination to keep to the strict wording of the treaty by executing any peasant from the Camp area caught selling provisions to the British. Supplies from Morocco were essential and the help of Jewish intermediaries from Barbary even more so.
In 1717 Francisco Garcia Caballero was appointed Spanish Consul at Gibraltar and the Bishop of Cadiz, Don Lorenzo Armengual de la Mota, visited the fortress with a large retinue. During his stay he soon found out that there were still about 300 Jews still resident in town - they even had their own synagogue in the Calle de Juan de Sierra. What followed was the inevitable formal complaint by the Spanish Ambassador in London.
That same year the commander of the Straits Squadron, Vice-Admiral Cornwall became aware of what was going on - and disapproved. He accused Colonel Stanhope Cotton - the new man in charge in Gibraltar - both of sheltering the Jews and of taking bribes from them. Cotton - and the Town Major, Major Thomas Fowke defended themselves vigorously and even managed to get the leading Jewish merchants to swear on oath that they had never offered either of them any bribes or sweeteners.
There were in fact two separate deposition. The first was written in English and was signed by the following Jewish merchants who had originally arrived from Europe.
Manuel Diaz Arias
Isaac Cardozo Nunez
The second was written in Spanish and was signed by the following Moroccan Jews.
Saml. Alevy ben Suffat
Solomon ben Amor
Abraham ben Amara
Gibraltar ( Early 18th century - Pieter Hudson - Detail )
Cotton, who could almost be accused of being a man with no shame, then came up with the following excuse. It involved sending a letter to Bolingbroke in which he included another which he insisted he had received from a Jewish merchant from England. who pleaded for more time in order to bring his financial affairs to order.
. . . yr. Honr. will be Pleased To Take Intto Consideration My Circumstancys, and Distinguish me from all The Restt Being an English Man and freeman of London. That I doe and have supplyd Mr. Vere, Agent Victualer, Mr. Win. Sherer, and John Conduit esq. and Mr. Robt. Hill, Paymrs with The money they wanted towards The Subsistence of the Garrison. As it apear By ye Certificats Anexed And Humbly Begg ye Favour of yr. Honour, to grant me Three Months Longer in This Place while I have an answer from my English Marchtts. In order to Dispose of Their Effects and Receive Their Moneys Due to Them.'
Vice-Admiral Cornwall was quite rightly convinced that Cotton was still procrastinating. And indeed he was - as Cornwall could hardly fail to notice.
I concluded that all the Jews had been remov'd as I wrote you in my Letter of ye 15 of November; but to my great surprise I am inform'd, that there are not only some remain yet within the Town, but many yt only lye on board a vessell in the Mole, who are allow'd to Trade notwithstanding His Majtys express commds to ye contrary.'
Cotton finally and reluctantly was forced to give in - much to his chagrin and financial loss.
I flatter myself that my conduct in relation to the Jews will meet with the same success, having strictly complyd with what is stipulated in the 10th Article of the Treaty of Utrecht, By removing both from the Towne and Bay the Jews of all Nations one only excepted, whom at the request of some English Merchants his Creditors, is still detained as a prisoner for a few day's longer he expecting by one of our Men of War goods sufficient to discharge his debts as this Ship is hourly expected he shall on her arrival instantly depart.
That face-saving 'one only excepted' last Jew on the Rock was probably Manuel Diaz Arias, one of signees of the deposition and the writer of the memorial quoted above which Cotton had sent to London. Cotton's hypocrisy is well demonstrated by his instructions to Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Godbey, who was left in charge of the garrison when he left for Madrid.
I must recommend to you, that upon no account whatsoever you suffer Jews of any Nation to reside here.
Gibraltar ( Early 18th century - Leynslager - Detail )
So where did all those Jews who were thrown out of Gibraltar go to? Impossible to say, but some of the more prosperous merchants such as Moses Mocatta went to England whereas others such as:
Isaac and Phineas Netto,
Manuel Dias Arias
are known to have ended up in Tetuan. All of them retained the hope that they would be able to re-establish their trade with Gibraltar at some future date. For the moment, however, Gibraltar was theoretically Jewless - and would perhaps have remained so for many years had it not been for a series of unforeseen circumstances.
Other articles on the Jews of Gibraltar
1728 - The Return
1750 - The Establishment
1757 - The Calm before the Storm
1779 - The Great Siege
Other articles on the Jews of Gibraltar
1728 - The Return
1750 - The Establishment
1757 - The Calm before the Storm
1779 - The Great Siege